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Aløft

There's nothing new about Nordic interiors - blond timbers, concrete surfaces, warm, mid-century charm without the twee - and thank heavens for that. It's a style that augments the beauty of everything around it, in this case, gorgeous Hobart harbour, which makes up one whole wall. What is new here, however, is the food - by veterans of Garagistes, which once dazzled diners down the road, Vue de Monde in Melbourne and Gordon Ramsay worldwide. There's a strong Asian bent, but with Tasmanian ingredients. In fact, the kitchen's love of the local verges on obsessive - coconut milk in an aromatic fish curry is replaced with Tasmanian-grown fig leaf simmered in cream to mimic the flavour. Other standouts include a gutsy red-braised lamb with gai lan and chewy cassia spaetzle, pigs' ears zingy with Sichuan pepper and a fresh, springy berry dessert. While the food is sourced locally, the generous wine list spans the planet. 

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Brae

Prepare to enter a picture of the countryside framed by note-perfect Australiana but painted in bold, elegant and unsentimental strokes. Over 10 or more courses, Dan Hunter celebrates his region with dishes that are formally daring (Crunchy prawn heads! Creamy oyster soft-serve! Sea urchin and chicory bread pudding!), yet rich in flavour and substance. The menu could benefit from an edit, but the plates are tightly composed - and what could you cut? Certainly not the limpid broth bathing fronds of abalone and calamari, nor the clever arrangement of lobster played off against charred waxy fingerlings under a swatch of milk skin. The adventure is significantly the richer for the cool gloss of the dining room, some of the most engaging service in the nation and wine pairings that roam with an easy-going confidence. Maturing and relaxing without surrendering a drop of its ambition, Brae is more compelling than ever.

Grilled apricot salad with jamon and Manchego

Here we've scorched apricots on the grill and served them with torn jamon, shaved Manchego and peppery rocket leaves. Think of it as a twist on the good old melon-prosciutto routine. The mixture would also be great served on charred sourdough.

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Chocolate, strawberries and cream


You'll need

190 ml pouring cream 60 ml (¼ cup) milk 60 gm caster sugar ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped titanium-strength gelatine leaves, softened in cold water for 5 minutes   Strawberry jelly 100 gm white sugar ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped 250 gm strawberries (about 1 punnet), hulled, quartered, plus extra, quartered, for serving titanium-strength gelatine leaves, softened in cold water for 5 minutes   Chocolate mousse 250 gm dark chocolate (55% cocoa solids), finely chopped 150 ml pouring cream 4 egg yolks 125 gm caster sugar 600 ml thickened cream, whisked to soft peaks   Chocolate tuiles 60 gm softened butter 110 gm (½ cup) caster sugar 2 eggwhites 75 gm (½ cup) plain flour 50 gm Dutch-process cocoa, sieved

Method

  • 01
  • Bring cream and milk to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat, add sugar, vanilla bean and vanilla seeds and stir to dissolve sugar. Squeeze excess water from gelatine, add to pan and stir to dissolve. Strain into a 10cm-square cake tin lined with baking paper (allow edges to overhang by 5cm) and refrigerate until firm (6-8 hours).
  • 02
  • For strawberry jelly, combine sugar, vanilla bean and seeds and 250ml water in a saucepan over medium heat, stir to dissolve sugar, then bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, add strawberries and simmer until tender (10-12 minutes). Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Squeeze excess water from gelatine, add to strawberry liquid, stir to dissolve and set aside to cool to room temperature. Carefully pour jelly over vanilla mixture and refrigerate until set (8-10 hours). Just before serving, carefully lift out onto a board, then trim and cut into 2.5cm squares.
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, for chocolate mousse, place chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Bring pouring cream to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat, add to chocolate, stand for 5 minutes, stir until smooth, then cool slightly (10 minutes). Whisk yolks and sugar in a bowl over simmering water until thick and pale (6-7 minutes), cool slightly (10 minutes), then fold through chocolate mixture. Fold in thickened cream, pour into a 1-litre container and refrigerate until firm (8-10 hours).
  • 04
  • For chocolate tuiles, preheat oven to 180C. Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer until pale (3-4 minutes). Gradually add eggwhite, flour and cocoa alternately until incorporated. Place a template with a 6cm x 10cm window (see note) on an oven tray lined with baking paper, thinly spread a little tuile mixture over template, carefully lift template and repeat with remaining mixture. Bake tuiles, swapping trays halfway through cooking, until browned (6-7 minutes). Cool on trays, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • 05
  • Place a chocolate tuile on each plate, add a quenelle of chocolate mousse, divide strawberry and cream squares among plates, scatter with fresh strawberries and serve.
Note Templates are available from select kitchenware shops. Alternatively, you can cut out your own stencil from a piece of plastic.

This recipe is from the March 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

“Would you please ask chef Tony Howell from WA’s Cape Lodge to share the recipe for his chocolate, strawberries and cream dessert?”
Mary Martino, Perth, WA

Request a recipe
To request a recipe, write to Fare Exchange, Australian Gourmet Traveller, GPO Box 4088, Sydney, NSW 2001, or email us. All requests should include the restaurant’s name and address or business card, as well as your name and address.


At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people

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